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restaurant menu design tips

12 Menu Design Ideas to Make the Greatest Menu

When it comes to setting up your menu design and, more specifically, your restaurant menu, you need to start by creating an even-balanced menu that fits your restaurant type.  

How to Create the Perfect Menu Design

Besides knowing what items you are going to serve, how your menu templates are laid out, and how each item reads is also vital to making money. Continue reading to discover 12 menu design tips that will help you make the most of your restaurant menu design!

cafe food restaurant menu template.png

1. Knowing your rival(s)

No matter how unique your items are or where you are located, knowing what the area restaurant is doing and selling is critical. Start by doing a ten-block perimeter check of all restaurants in your area. 


Create your list the personally visiting each place. You may not want to dine-in at each location, but going to each restaurant, getting a menu, and ordering food will help you understand what the competition is doing.


Going the extra mile and dining in is even better. This lets you get a complete picture of the service, menu, and ambiance.


Make sure to note their most popular items and identify what each restaurant's strengths are.


This information will help you position your restaurant, create your menu, and craft the menu design.

2. Your Menu Design Size


Many times restaurants will have extensive menus that cater to a wide variety of customer types. This approach is not only a challenge for kitchen management, but you will end up throwing away lots of food at the end of each day. 


Another downside to an extensive menu is customer decision-making. When listing many category types and items, you will delay ordering time and overwhelm customers with options. 


For menu items per category, we recommend going with no more the eight. 


3. Menu Design Readability

You would think this is pretty straightforward, but the menu design and how easy the menu design is to read get overlooked. All too often, restaurants go with fancy extravagant headers and italic descriptions. Yes, it does look nice, but the average person may have a challenge reading.


Another thing to stay away from are restaurant buzz words, like "Worlds Best Pizza" customers know it's not true, and this is a way to weaken your originality.


For menu design, font size, keep it large enough, so customers won't have to squint. Also, don't go too big with the font size as it could come across as cheesy.


4. Menu Design Psychology 


From a menu design standpoint, the viewing psychology of a customer is so crucial to understanding. Why? Knowing what a customer will look at first and how their eyes will travel across the menu can create a menu template design that inspires sales!


Studies reveal that the middle center section of a menu design receives the most eyeballs from a viewing perspective. The restaurant will place their highest margin, the most popular items in this section, to maximize this. Below the featured article, they will list several value-based items that still support good margins.


Areas of a menu design that don't receive many views are the back and inside lower left regions of a menu template. These areas would be ideal for listing kids' meals and lower margin items.


When it comes to pricing, stay away from the standard pricing column. That stands out like a sore thumb and attracts the cheap-buyers. Consider removing that column, and add the item price without a symbol at the end of each description. This requires the customer to read each description first before getting to the cost. 


5. Menu Design Colors


Another easy concept that isn't considered, the menu colors you select has a significant role in sub-conscious triggers. 


Many restaurants have noted yellow and red as effective colors for grabbing attention while creating appetite.


Blue, a popular color in general, has not been especially useful for menu design. Because blue is known to be relaxing, you don't see blue used in menus. 


For fast-casual restaurants, the use of pastel colors has become prevalent in recent years. The light color combination creates a fun feeling that is light yet clean. 

6. Imaginative Descriptions

Start with power words that invoke imagination, describe the flavor, and create excitement:

  • Decadent

  • Smoky

  • Zesty

  • Stuffed

  • Flaky

  • Tender

  • Chunky

  • Sauteed

  • Whipped

  • Pickled

  • Sizzling

  • Fully loaded

By sprinkling in several powerful words and listing out one or two featured ingredients, you will create irresistible descriptions.


Artichoke Spread: supple artichoke hearts wrapped within rows of organic baby spinach then topped with melted goat cheese.


7. Costs

There is nothing more important than knowing what your true-hard costs are per item. Before pricing, make sure you take the time to get your firm costs per item by single serving. You may be surprised and discover the lobster tails are cheap than you think! 

After you've got your costs, add your margin, and then list your highest margin items per category. This will give you the framework of what items you can promote within your menu design.


8. Value Pricing


How many times have you seen the .99 trick? Pricing specialists all say that items featuring a .99 at the end outsell rounded up prices. From a psychology standpoint, customers perceive an item to be of more excellent value, say $4.99 vs. $5.00. Try this out for your self! 


9. Menu Design Redesign


There is no set time when a menu design needs to be refreshed, but taking a look at it every six months is recommended. This means doing: 


  • Price check

  • Descriptions review

  • Area competition look

  • Top selling items analysis


By reviewing those four items, you will get an accurate 360-degree view of your menu design and can re-tweak or update it if needed.

10. Menu Specials


Holidays and national events are prime days for restaurant traffic. Make the most of this, and make sure you have your holiday menus ready! When creating your menu designs, make sure to include your branding but spice it up with a holiday theme. 


11. Proof Read

After your menu design is completed, always remember to do a detailed review of it. Look for spelling and grammar. There is nothing more embarrassing than spelling the word chicken wrong. 

12. The Local Touch

Showing support for local businesses and farms is often a fan favorite. It shows you care about your community while giving back. If any of the items feature ingredients, add an icon or phrase indicating "Locally Sourced". These little touches bring originality and help to add personality to your restaurant menu design.


Menu design and the engineering of your menu descriptions play a vital role in positioning your items to sell. When it comes to arrangement, make sure you understand what items you make the most margin on, then place them across your menu designs sweet spots!

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